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The Great Canadian Ratings Report: Audiences heat up along with Blue Jays

Chris Zelkovich
Eh Game

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The Blue Jays are winning, and fans are tuning in to see them. (Getty Images)

There's nothing like a winner to get people flocking to their television sets.

Okay, that may not be a universal truth. Case in point: the Toronto Raptors, Toronto FC. But generally, fans love winners and right now the surprising Toronto Blue Jays are winning.

Their game with the Oakland A's on Sunday afternoon drew an average of 630,000 viewers to Sportsnet, the biggest audience since the opening week of the season. That's 110,000 more than what the team averaged last year during a season that started with big audiences and finished with mostly friends and relatives watching.

Equally telling was the almost 500,000 who watched the first two games of the A's series on Sportsnet One and Sportsnet 360. Those channels tend to draw smaller audiences, mainly because they have fewer subscribers than the main channel.

An example of how far the Jays could go came Monday when they attracted an average audience of 836,000 for their game with Tampa Bay. That was the biggest ratings number since the home opener and a serious eye-opener considering that this it's still May. A pennant race would easily produce audiences of more than a million.

Blue Jays fans can be fickle, but there's also a hard core that won't abandon the team under any circumstances. Sort of like Leaf Nation, only smaller and possibly less prone to blind loyalty.

Combine that with casual fans and those who love jumping on band wagons and the Jays could be hitting the ratings heights if they keep this up into the summer.

It was a pretty good weekend all around for Sportsnet. Its Memorial Cup coverage recorded the third-highest average audience (280,000) in the channel's history and the final ranked fourth. The tournament ratings were up 15 per cent over last year and the final was 9 per cent higher than 2013.

Here are the most-watched sports events on English-language television for the past weekend, according to BBM Canada overnight ratings:

1

NHL

Canadiens at Rangers

Sunday

CBC

4,052,000

2

NHL

Canadiens at Rangers

Thursday

CBC

3,562,000

3

NHL

Blackhawks at Kings

Saturday

CBC

1,855,000

4

MLB

Rays at Blue Jays

Monday

Sportsnet

836,000

5

MLB

A's at Blue Jays

Sunday

Sportsnet

630,000

6

Memorial Cup final

Guelph vs. Edmonton

Sunday

Sportsnet

527,000

7

MLB

A's at Blue Jays

Friday

SportsnetOne, 360

494,000

8

MLB

A's at Blue Jays

Saturday

SportsnetOne, 360

484,000

9

Soccer

Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid

Saturday

Sportsnet

339,000

10

Memorial Cup

Edmonton vs. Val D'Or

Friday

Sportsnet

334,000

11

Auto racing

Indianapolis 500

Sunday

City, SportsnetOne

294,000

12

PGA

Crowne Plaza Invit. final round

Sunday

Global

226,000

13

PGA

Crowne Plaza Invit. third round

Saturday

Global

226,000

14

NBA

Pacers at Heat

Saturday

TSN

186,000

15

Hockey-Worlds

Russia vs. Finland

Sunday

TSN

155,000

16

Auto racing

F1 Monaco Grand Prix

Sunday

TSN

152,000

17

Hockey-Worlds

Czech vs. Finland

Saturday

TSN

145,000

18

NBA

San Antonio at Oklahoma City

Sunday

TSN

144,000

19

Auto racing

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Sunday

TSN2

122,000*

20

UFC

Preliminaries

Saturday

Sportsnet360

114,000

           

 *Fox audience not calculated.

THREE TO WATCH

For the lob of tennis*: If you're a hard-core tennis fan, you've been glued to your couch since Sunday's opening smashes of the French Open. As always, the top names in the game are in Paris, including Canadian hopefuls such as Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard. Coverage starts daily at 5 a.m. ET on TSN2 and at a more civilized 10 a.m. on TSN.

Soccer to me*: The Voyageurs Cup sounds like it's more likely to be awarded to the winners of a canoe race, but in fact there are five Canadian soccer teams fighting to take it home and then represent this country at the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The second leg kicks off Wednesday with Toronto FC taking on the Montreal Impact (7:30 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One.)

Wheelie good time*: With the Tour de France approaching, this is a great time to get yourself in viewing shape to watch endless shots of lycra-covered bottoms peddling across Europe. This is the last week of the month-long bicycling endurance test from Belfast to Trieste, Italy with the Giro d’Italia being crowned Sunday (8:30 a.m., Sportsnet One.)

* Apologies for this week's horrible puns, a tribute to Ron MacLean.

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